Responding to climate change

I sat in a coffee shop today reading the Independent and feeling unhappy.


I know we have known for a long time that the lifestyles we choose to lead are having a disastrous effect on our planet, but it now seems even more definite and even more real.

A lot of the things that usually occupy my mind, such as the problems in the Anglican church (Yes, I know – I do need to get out and about more) now seem really very unimportant.

So, what can we do? Well, I can only speak for myself.

First of all there are lifestyle changes. In my case I think the campervan needs to go. I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that someone who calls themselves a Christian can no longer own a campervan with a clean conscience. Campervans are a lot of things, but green really isn’t one of them. Perhaps I should scrap it rather than selling it so that no-one else gets to pollute the atmosphere with the dashed thing.

I also need to be a bit more serious about using my bicycle rather than driving places. I’m quite good at this, but I could be better. I haven’t been very good over the last few months as my bike keeps on developing stupid little problems that I can’t fix, but I need to resolve to do better.

I suppose the other weapons I have at my disposal to do something, (even if it isn’t much) are my cartooning ability and the fact I can make websites. Therefore I am thinking that a good thing to do would be to build a new website with cartoons that have an environmental message, and somehow (via means that I have not exactly fathomed out) use this as a lobbying tool to put pressure on governments to do something. If you can think how this might work please let me know.

I think that is the main thing we can do – demonstrate that we feel strongly about the issue and use whatever skills we have to influence people in power to do what they can. And do what we can to fight apathy and ‘nothing I do will make a difference anyway’. I don’t know what else to suggest.

Folding bicycles

I am thinking of buying a folding bicycle so that when I get bored of cycling around these housing estates I can nip onto the train and cycle around some other housing estates. I went to the Cycle Show at the weekend to see what is on offer.

a bike

This is the ‘A bike‘, the lightest and most compact folding bicycle available. Unfortunately the wheels are so small I cannot imagine it is ridable for anything other than the shortest of distances especially on the appallingly surfaced cycle paths which are the main way from A to B around here.

The Folding Society have done a report of the various folding bicycles that were available at the show. The general consensus amongst enthusiastic folders (What else do you call them?) seems to be that the Brompton (like Ian‘s) is the best one available. Unfortunately this and the other more trendy models are, I think, (a) rather beyond the reach of your average internet cartoonist and (b) more expensive than the sort of bicycle I’d want to leave locked up in a town such as the one I live in when I go to all the museums* and art galleries* etc. I’m aware that you get what you pay for, but something a bit more like one of these might be a more likely option.

*Humourous point that might have gone undetected.

The cycling revolution

As avid followers of my cycling category will know I recently bought a new bicycle and have been riding it hither and thither. I find that after a day of doing drawing or admin or websites or blogging getting out into the fresh air is just what you need. I go though fairly uninteresting housing estates and bumpy semi-cyclepaths, but it doesn’t matter. I just enjoy it.

I was please to read via Richard’s blog that cycling is significantly on the increase, according to the Independent. Ian has a picture of the front page of the newspaper: Pedallingmythoughts: Newspaper front page of the year. Marvellous. Come on everyone – if you are physically able to ride a bicycle (and I realise not everyone is) then why not give it a try? See my other cycling posts for bike-buying advice.

I think the final word needs to go to Steve Tomkins though:

Anyway. Now I’m a born-again cyclist. (I get fit and I go to be with Jesus when I die.) It’s fab. Whhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!! I go, when it’s downhill, the wind in my helmet, my life in my hands. When it’s uphill, it’s more “Ugh – ugh – ugh – ugh – ugh…” (stop and pretend to fix something on my bike while I get my breath back) “…ugh – ugh – ugh”. But then it’s a truly righteous feeling when you get to the top – and when you feel those little blobs of cholestrol being traded in for extra minutes of your life.

Cycling blogs

There are lots of cycling blogs of course, but these are three by people I know:

Cycling blog by Ian, the brilliant but quirky youth adviser for the Oxford Diocese. His Youthblog is here and is called Youthblog, but it is his cycling blog we are interested in today. Lots of interesting and inspiring cycling thoughts and links. One of Ian’s bikes is a Brompton, which folds up into your pocket* so you don’t have to leave it outside. *Well, smallish anyway.

Mr M’s Tour de France
Mr M is the husband of Wiblogger Miffy. He has reached Belgium as we speak, which must be on the way to France. I’m not sure. Anyway, definitely one to add to your feed reader for the next 6 weeks.

42: Cycling
This is the cycling section of Cartoon Blog reader Dave Warnock’s site. Dave rides recumbent trikes, which really do look like a lot of fun.

I haven’t been out on my bike for nearly a week as the weather has been poor. Unless you count yesterday’s trip to the Post Office to buy stamps to send all of your postcards out. Talking of which, I should go to the Post Office to send all of your postcards out.

Update: Another cycling link. Paul goes on a cycling break. I’m inspired.

The bicycle


Above: The bicycle, with my old bike, a 1991 Kona mountain bike, behind.

You may remember that a month or so ago I talked about Buying a bicycle, and then a week or two ago said that I had ordered it. Well, it has now arrived. The bike I went for was the Claud Butler Classic, which cost me £190 and is widely available in the UK for £200 or less. I did take into account the excellent advice given to me, but decided to go for this bike rather than a more expensive one for the following reasons:

  • You get a lot for £200 these days. We’re probably talking about the same as a £400-500 bike of a few years ago. Alloy frame, aloy wheels, shimano gears, quick release wheels, suspension seatpost.
  • I need something comforable rather than fast because I am getting old.
  • The bike will be locked up in public at various points and therefore I don’t want anything that looks too valuable.
  • I don’t think you get a better frame by spending twice as much (in the same range at least). You just get more expensive components which I don’t need.
  • I quite like the idea of getting a basic bicycle as then I can persuade other people to do the same in a way that I might not have been able to do if I had a more expensive bike.

Anyway, must dash. Another trip to the dentist coming up…

Cycle lanes

Tim posted this great site in the comments. It shows monthly examples of poorly designed Cycle lanes, cycle paths and cycle routes. Amusing, but beware, you can waste a bit of time looking at them all. I should know.

I have to say I’m not sure whether cycle lanes are a good idea. The roads here in Essex generally feel very unsafe for cycling because of the traffic, but I’m not sure that cycle lanes are the answer. One useful thing that could be done is to slow cars down a bit. The speed limit is 30mph around Rayleigh, but I rarely* see anyone going less than 40. I have never seen any police checking speeds in Essex as far as I can recall. I think speed limits in urban areas should generally be reduced to 20mph and transgressors should undergo some sort of embarrasing forfeit, but I haven’t decided what exactly. I am serious about the 20mph though.

I haven’t got time to tell you about my bicycle as it is nearly lunchtime, but I will soon.


Go by bicycle

I ordered a bicycle today. I’ll tell you more about it next week as the dinner is nearly ready.

In the meantime, take a look at Go by bicycle, which includes 15 good reasons to go places by bicycle as well as flyers you can print to spread the word.

If you see someone you know while riding, it’s easy to stop and say hello. Bicycles create public space, enhance street life and build a sense of community.

See also this page of bicycle blogs.

Update: The dinner is not quite ready yet. I have put the timer on for an extra 10 minutes. I still do not have time to tell you about the bicycle though as I have dilly-dallied about explaining about the dinner. Another time I will not mention the dinner and get right to the point and explain about the bicycle.

Buying a bicycle

Several of the clergy bloggers I linked to yesterday have been talking about cycling recently. Maggi has been learning to ride a bike, whilst Paul has written this rather good piece ‘Bicycles – surely a sign of the kingdom‘.

And there’s something truly wonderful about a machine which can propel a human being at speeds exceeding our running speed, without contributing a single ounce to global pollution. The bicycle is a parable of faith: needing the rider to work with the machine, enjoying its benefits but also taking responsibility for their own contribution to maintaining its forward momentum (and if you give up peddling long enough, you will stop and fall off!)

I’m hoping to buy a new bike shortly. I do already have a mountain bike but it is a little bit of a relic from my racing days in the early 90s. I have a birthday coming up too which is a good excuse. I am quite inspired by the latest generation of ‘hybrid’ bikes – part mountain bike, part road bike. You can get quite a reasonable amount for your money too. I have seen the Raleigh Pioneer Metro GLX for around £250 and the Claud Butler Classic for as little as £177.99. This might seem like a lot but it really isn’t compared with the cost of owning a vehicle or repeated public transport trips. You can get less expensive bikes but with heavier steel frames and cheap components such as the brakes etc which seem to me like a bit of a false economy.

Has anyone reading bought one of these ‘hybrid’ bikes? Am I thinking along the right lines?